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Govt launches review of digital convergence regulation

Government launches review on where telco regulation crosses over with content

By Paul McBeth

Aug. 27 (BusinessDesk) - The government has launched a review of its regulatory frameworks governing telecommunications and broadcasting as the two sectors become increasingly tangled, a phenomenon known as digital convergence.

Communications and Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams wants feedback on two papers released today, one to review whether New Zealand's laws and regulations are fit-for-purpose when it comes to the relationship between telecommunications and broadcasting, and the other on how content is regulated as traditional distribution through radio and television loses viewers to an online audience.

The digital convergence green paper sets out the programme for further work, which includes reviews of the regulatory framework for content classification, telecommunications and radio spectrum regime, whether infrastructure is needed to be developed to support convergence, a refresh of the cyber strategy plan, how GST applies to online services, a study of copyright in the creative sector, and the data futures partnership.

"We need to consider the implications of convergence across the regulatory framework and ask whether our systems are correctly calibrated for this converged world that we live in," Adams said in a statement. "Content and delivery have become decoupled. We need to ensure we don't inadvertently stifle innovation or create inequities between businesses that now find themselves competing for market share."

In recent years, online content companies, internet service providers and traditional broadcasters have been pressing the government to take the issue of convergence more seriously as the roll-out of ultrafast broadband accelerated the crossover between the sectors.

Adams said the content regulation paper was a core part of the convergence work and will focus on content classification and standards, inconsistences between the broadcasting and electoral acts, advertising restrictions, and supporting local content.

"We don't want regulation that constrains the sector or dictates how it should develop," Adams said in the paper's foreword. "We want to ensure businesses are regulated equally, to encourage an innovative and competitive market."


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